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TotalEnergies CEO bullish on Namibia oil prospects, confirms Mangetti find


Company seeking 'sweet spots' on Venus prospect

'Some hydrocarbons' found in Mangetti-1A wildcat

'First development clearly in our hands': Pouyanne

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TotalEnergies remains optimistic about its Orange Basin projects off Namibia and is looking for "sweet spots" on which to base upcoming drilling in the world's leading exploration hotspot, CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in a call with analysts Feb. 7.

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Announcing the company's full-year 2023 results, Pouyanne also confirmed recent reports about an oil find in TotalEnergies' Mangetti-1 exploration well but stopped short of offering any details.

The French supermajor and Shell are driving Namibia's emergence as an oil and gas producer, having made initial vast discoveries in the Orange Basin in 2022.

TotalEnergies spent 50% of its exploration budget for 2023 in Namibia, it said, and will spend about 30% of its $1 billion exploration and appraisal budget in the Southern African country in 2024.

Last year, it reported "positive results" at its marquee Venus-1A appraisal well -- widely seen by investors and analysts as a gauge of the prospectivity of the wider basin -- and carried out two flow tests, it said. Pouyanne said the company had "a very good drill stem test on one of the Venus wells", while the location of the second was "imperfect".

Amid reports of an oil find at Mangetti, which sits just north of Venus, Pouyanne said Feb. 7 that the firm had found "some hydrocarbons" but added it was "not huge".

On Feb. 5, the French company entered into a joint venture with Vantage Drilling International, giving it a 75% stake in the Tungsten Explorer drillship -- which it is using to drill the Mangetti well -- for $199 million.

TotalEnergies is currently looking for "sweet spots" on which to base future drilling off Namibia, Pouyanne said. Both the French major and Shell have suggested they intend to pursue development of their Orange Basin projects.

"There are a lot of hydrocarbons, there are some sweet spots in terms of productivity [and] permeability. There are some areas which have less good characteristics," Pouyanne said. "I repeat that on our side we see a first development clearly in our hands."

He added: "We will continue to drill ...We have another exploration potential well on the south of Venus and we continue to appraise what has been discovered."

Last year the company purchased an additional stake in Namibia's Blocks 2912 and 2913B from Impact Oil & Gas. It is currently acquiring 3D seismic data on the blocks, which neighbor South Africa.

Namibian officials have estimated the country could hold 11 billion barrels of crude, which would make it a significant African producer and transform its tiny economy. Analysts from S&P Global expect first oil from Namibia in 2029.